Intel Compute Stick Review

At CES 2015, Intel quietly announced its upcoming Bay Trail-based Compute Stick. Last week we got to check out a sample unit up close and personal.

Early Verdict

The Compute Stick can add some computing functions to your video display, but by itself, it's very limited. Accessorizing it might help make it a little better, but you'll still be a long way from using your TV as a full blown PC.


  • +

    Adds limited computing power to your TV/display • Bluetooth • Small-size means easy to hide behind the TV • Decent video play and storage speed


  • -

    Only one USB 2.0 port • Slow Wi-Fi networking • Accessorizing adds to final price • Resource restrictive

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A Very Limited PC Experience

Intel recently announced the availability of its Windows-based Compute Stick. Available now through Intel authorized dealers, the Windows version of the Compute Stick is expected to retail at $150, while an upcoming Ubuntu Linux version, with slightly different specs, is expected to sell for $110.

Far from being a desktop replacement system, the Compute Stick is an add-on compute module that plugs into a TV or computer's video display via HDMI. The Compute Stick is designed to handle light workloads that include editing simple documents, watching videos, or just chatting with friends over Skype. Just under 4.5 inches long, 1.5 inches wide, and .5 inches thick, the Intel Compute Stick is equipped with wireless networking, USB 2.0, Bluetooth, and provides video and sound to the display.

The Intel Compute Stick will eventually be available in two OS flavors, Windows 8.1 and Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. The Windows version (STCK1A32WFC) will be available in late April, while the Ubuntu version (STCK1A8LFC) will see a worldwide release in June.

  • John Philips
    Would like to see the Ubuntu stick performance...
  • elbert
    I would like to see xbmc performance. I would also like to see if the stick can both run playon server and watch playon on this single device.
  • TechyInAZ
    Thx for the review Tom's Hardware!

    No matter how slow that usb "PC" is, it's still amazing that you can run a computer off a single little thumb drive shaped device and doesn't have problems even overheating.

    I think this stick is designed more for demo purposes. Demonstrating that technology is advanced enough now that we can pack PC's in form factors unimaginable a few years ago.
  • John Philips
    Probably it could be faster with Enlightenment Desktop.Or one day somebody can put Windows xp or anything else...
  • americapat
    why a fan? Strange that the networking sooo slow, shouldn't be par with Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T? Price a little high too.
  • Shankovich
    Can't use WiFi and Bluetooth at the same time...............................
  • uzm
    Does it support uhd/4k tvs?
  • mapesdhs
    "... single channel DDR3L running at 1333 GHz ..."

    Really? Can they put that in next-gen GPUs? ;)

    Overall, I don't see the attraction over a normal HTPC, and in time TVs
    are going to become more than quick enough to run general apps. Wouldn't
    surprise me if the next move with TVs is to integrate a small PC inside
    them somehow, assuming TV makers see a market for it.


  • StarBound
    I'm curious as to the light gaming this can deliver.
  • zodiacfml
    Pricey. The Linux version price is more logical yet it could have at least have 5Ghz WiFi.
    Only small business can appreciate this for signage/display purpose. For home, you're better off with a Windows based tablet with HDMI output.